Monday, 20 August 2007

The Wind She Is Windy Every Day

I drove around very a wet and windy Cornwall this weekend and had feelings similar to the thoughts that I had had when I first arrived in Florida in 1989: There, the sun is always shining giving away her free energy on a daily basis, why, oh why, doesn’t every house have its own solar panels?
The sun and wind don't need to be mined, generated, fought over or made in reactors.
In North Cornwall it is very windy, you wonder why every property doesn’t have its own windmill. Well, there are many reasons, of course..... but that is why I went to the Delabole Wind find out more...

When I got in to The Port Gaverne Hotel on Friday evening, I met some salty old seadogs at the bar. We got chatting over a pint and I told them the reason for my visit was the Delabole Wind Fair. Ray is a retired merchant seaman. Someone I imagine, who knows about the power of the wind. He told me of his desire to get a wind turbine on his property
“Do you have enough wind for it?” I asked
“Oh yes!” was his swift reply
He was lamenting the lack of information about installation and support that he felt should come from the government. Dream on, Ray.
He had once phoned a number he found and was asked how old he was. When he said almost 70, the person on the phone asked why would he want a turbine? He would never see the financial return in his lifetime!
”That’s not the POINT!' exclaimed Ray.

Once I got to Delabole on Saturday morning I was in no doubt that Northern Cornwall has enough wind. There were kagoul-clad families all over the wind farm. I felt decidedly underdressed! I did not breakdown and buy an anorak however… God forbid, Darling!

Good Energy were the sponsors of the fair as they are in the process of retiring the 9 turbines that have been producing clean renewable electricity there since 1991. They will replace them with 6 new ones that will be more efficient and create more energy for even more homes in area. The fair was essencially a public relations day for the local inhabitants to find out information on the new turbines. There were also many exhibitors showing off and promoting other local eco and sustainable products. The emphasis being on renewable energy from the wind (turbines) and the sun (solar voltaic panels).

Good Energy's 'Home Generation' plan is unique in that they pay homeowners with 'microgenerators' (such as solar panels and micro wind turbines) by paying them for every unit of electricity that they generate. This includes the units they use themselves.
Wait a minute. Let me get this right. They PAY you, not BILL you, for generating the electricity that you are using. I think that might be hard for some people to grasp. But I’m ready!!
Read more about Good Energy.

I picked up a number of leaflets on home wind turbines for Ray and gave them to him. Hopefully it will spur him to call Aerolus or one of the other companies there to come and give him an estimate for his own turbine. It is clear that the government is lagging behind on this, so individuals like Ray have to do what they can.
Energy bills are not getting any cheaper and I don't expect they our lifetime.

See I can’t help myself! I just have to help spread the word to people who need the information. All part of my eco lifestyle consultancy.
Thank you, Eco Warrioress.
You’re welcome!

Here are some of the companies who were at the fair and some of the people I met:
Aeolus can assess your energy needs and install the right wind turbine for your house or business. They gave out a handy CD that helps you understand the process and do some of the calculations for yourself.

I spoke to Mat who went to school in CA and worked for NASA. He used to live in Pasedena – small world. He and his wife and business partner have a small independent company called INDEPENDENT ENERGY. They advise and install wind turbines, solar voltaic and solar thermal panels.

The Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust is a charitable company after my own heart. They are committed to helping buildings of the future be as sustainable as possible. Buildings that are designed to use as little energy as possible made with materials that are locally sourced. The trust also trains and aids carpenters and plumbers and electricians who want to learn about the new products and building methods coming onto the market. As a designer this can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the new technology and materials available to us. It is finding the guys willing and able to install it all for you! They have training programmes and support for all the trades as well as businesses who want to reduce their impact on the local environment.

Katie and I had our photo taken wearing shopping bags that pack into a small bag/keyring by local photographer David Flowers! Katie is the founder of One Green Earth which is a directory of all things eco. She also works for Bags Of Change, another directory that lists eco shops where you can buy all the green things your heart desires. One of those things is a shopping bag made from organic cotton and hemp. I bought one for myself and some for my friends.

As you know by now, I’m interested in all aspects of sustainability so when that extends to organic wine I’m all for blogging about it!!
We Greenies find each other by many means. Chris and Anita Joy had a stand at The Delabole Wind Fair, but we met in the bar of the Port Gaverne Hotel on my second night. I was recommending the pint of prawns and fish cakes to Anita when the connection as bon viveurs was made! Anita was a geography teacher and was showing Al Gore's video lectures in her classes for years, long before The Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar. Chris has recently given up the high-powered rat race of the financial world for his new business that fulfills his love of French wine and his desire to create a new ethical company.
He and his business partner have formed Vin Vert (Green Wine for non-French speakers). He had to trudge the French countryside for months and months, poor thing, til he found just the right organic wine he wanted to sell. Can you imagine how many bottles of rose he must have had to drink? It must have been hell, Sweetie!!
Talking to Chris, I thought his wine might be out of my price range but having scanned the website, they have wine that I could stretch to. They are very reasonably priced. A 6 bottle mixed box for £38.45 ($76) about £6.40 ($12) a bottle!! Salute!

One of the most interesting stands was one with information on ethical investing. Now’s the time to move your stocks, shares and ISA’s and IRA’s to green and ethical companies. I moved mine about a year ago and have watched them grow substantially. Wall Street/The City is calling eco investment projects the new ‘dot coms’. I spoke to Chris Deacon at the Ethical Investors Group. He said green investment is still a volatile market but he predicts a steady rise over the next few years as successful eco and ethical companies emerge. He sells a package of investments spread over a number of eco/ethical companies that he has researched so profit and loss is balanced out.
'Cos you don't want to put all your green eggs in one basket, do you?
As most advisors will tell you, there’s never a guarrantee with investing. You have to be in it for the long term. Whether it be eco property (which is where my heart lies) or investing in new companies who make products that are trying to have less impact on the environment. Chris is a chartered insurance practitioner and touches not just on eco investing, but investments without animal experimentation or factory farming. I like it!

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the wind farms are not without those who oppose them. Delabole isn’t the only wind farm in North Cornwall. They dot the landscape quite frequently and quite beautifully. But that is clearly just my opinion.
I saw a couple of signs on houses calling for no more wind farms. I'm presuming this is because some people think they are ugly or are harmful to their health. The house itself, ironically, backed onto some ugly farm buildings that were doing nothing for the scenery, so I’m not quite sure what their objection was. I would rather see a field of quietly whirring white windmills than, say, the view you get from the beach at Aldeburgh in Suffolk of the Sizewell B nuclear plant – Uch!
If that doesn’t look like a meltdown waiting to happen I don’t know what does?
Do you remember when people were upset about pylons blighting the beautiful English countryside? They are still there in Cornwall. Ugly electricity lines strung across the fields. I’d take a windmill any day. Their movement and sound is stirringly poetic. Standing next to one and hearing the soft gentle whir of free energy coming from one of the Earth’s cleanest renewable source. Mmmm….. It’s magical.

Check out the photos of the turbines at night. I drove back to the wind farm after dark to see them. This photograph does not do the experience justice. They first appeared on the black horizon like the pulsing lights from a UFO and became no less awesome as I got closer. The wind farm was completely deserted. The mist was rolling in off the sea with the wind. Combined with the gentle whir of the turbines it was so eerie and so beautiful.

Now it's time for.....

Here are some of the fun and stylish
Eco things
I have come across this week


This eco/sustainable/whatever thing is becoming competitive. How many green things can you be? Count them here: My friend in California makes these gorgeous completely green candles made from GMO-free soy bean wax (1) and organic essential oils (2). The glasses they are in are reusable as tumblers afterwards (3). Even the packaging uses no glue and is made from recyclable paper (that makes 4!). Wish I had smelly-web .... whatever that is? I want to smell them!! Liz has promised to email when they become available in UK stores. For now they are available from her website and selected US stores.

Cool table made from honeycombed recycled paper – no lighted matches though!It appears to be quite flammable. Health and Safety look the other way because it is so fab.
This is from Design Within Reach, a company that aims to make classic and contemporary furniture available to all. They are not cheap tho' so I have been know to call them Design WithOUT Reach!! Oh, I'm so funny!

Don’t forget, if you need me to facilitate your green makeover, give me a call. I will advise you on all things eco and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll go and find it for you. I’ll do the simple things like changing your light bulbs to the curly low energy ones or arrange for your solar panels to be installed and/or everything in between. You may not be able to implement everything at the beginning, but I will leave you with a list of “can do’s” to work towards for future reference. You will end up with a folder full of green solutions and websites to help you lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
Go on, you know you want to!
You know you should do!

Email me.


Anonymous said...

Annoyingly biased but if I wasn't I'd still love reading these brilliant recommendations - anything that can stop me feeling so guilty and still have a cool house will do for me.
I just want the rest of the world to cotton on Alexandra Boyd that is!

Kay Plunkett-Hogge said...

Love the sound of those soybean candles. On a more serious note, the green investing s v. interesting...
Keep on greening us Boydy!!

Kristin said...

I found this site. Thought it might be helpful.